Shopify and Squarespace are two well-known web design platforms that make it possible to create full-featured online stores. When choosing between the systems, though, you need to clearly understand either you want to build a website or a digital store.
In order to find out which site builder will work best for your business, you have to initially define your current needs and plans for the future. This is because Shopify and Squarespace have different user markets, approaches and purposes, which will eventually affect your choice.
When comparing Shopify and Squarespace, you need to clearly understand either you want to build a website or a digital store. Do you need a good web representation or a platform letting you sell products online.
In order to find out which site builder will work best for your business, first you need to define your current needs and whether you plan to grow your biz in the future, because despite the shared goal – to help you bring your business online – Shopify and Squarespace have different user markets, approaches and purposes.
Shopify – is an eCommerce platform designed specifically for launching web shops. The solution comes as a professional tool to create a solid marketplace as well as manage your sales and products.
Shopify boasts great integration capabilities. It offers a variety of apps and services to handle purchases, promotions, marketing, etc.
Squarespace was initially created as an instrument to build content-oriented websites, not digital stores. When we say “websites”, we mean blogs, portfolios, business cards, etc.
The system serves well to achieve those goals with quite an extensive feature set. eCommerce functionality has been recently added here, but this is what first-timers need to set up a quality digital store. In this respect, Squarespace works best for non-techies rather than for web design pros.
To figure out which one is the best suit for your selling needs, we are going to enable in-depth Shopify vs Squarespace research to highlight some of the key factors and features brought to you by both platforms.
Shopify vs Squarespace: General Overview
Shopify deserves special user attention due to its powerful web store creation focus, abundance of niche-specific features, widgets, extensions and designs. The only implication of the eCommerce software is professional web store development, customization and promotion.
It lets you start and run almost any type of a web store – from a small market and up to a huge digital marketplace with an amazing assortment of products offered for sale. The system application, however, requires niche knowledge and coding skills.
The foundation of the system dates back to 2004, when it was first introduced to the target audience. Since that time, Shopify has gained worldwide recognition, having introduced lots of advanced features and tools.
Currently, the number of its subscribers has overcome 5,893,344 users and it keeps increasing with every passing month. Shopify has much to offer its users, unveiling a diversity of design customization and flexibility options that makes it possible to sell physical and digital products online.
Squarespace positions itself as a great solution for users willing to start and manage quality and feature-laden web projects. The system is applicable for building blogs, portfolios, restaurant and cafe websites, business projects and it also works well for running online stores.
The integrated toolset of the DIY service, however, does not let you set up a large supermarket yet the website builder can be used to design small/medium online stores.
The website builder was founded in 2003 and it has soon developed into one of the most popular representatives of the web design market. As of today, the customer base of the platform has reached 4,741,665 subscribers and that’s not the final statistics.
The amount of users who join the platform keeps increasing along with its popularity and diversity of features it keeps adding to its toolset.
Shopify vs Squarespace: Which One Is Easier to Use?
Shopify made an effort to combine eCommerce functionality with the ease of use. The interface of the system, however, still remains too niche-focused and quite complicated for first-timers, especially if compared with content-based site builders.
It abounds in special tools, elements and features that require exploration and some practice. On the other hand, it has a drag-and-drop feature to edit pages in addition to a standard content editor.
To be able to develop a ready-to-use digital store structure, you don’t have to build each section step by step. All you need is to modify the already existing sections or pieces while the core of your future shop is already working.
The process of web page editing is similar to working with MS Word or Google Docs here, while additional dashboard settings include instruments to add logos, change default colors and fonts, show or hide elements, etc.
Technical geeks and coders can access the platform’s CSS or work with its custom Liquid coding language. It ensures better flexibility and customization opportunities yet it also requires a professional programming background.
Whatever web design expertise level you possess, it may take several days to learn the way the system works and to start creating projects with it. This is not the best option, when it comes to DIY web store creation.
Shopify customer support is available through several channels. To get started, you will be offered interactive tutorials and guides that highlight all key steps of building a website from scratch.
Moreover, customers can create their own threads on Shopify forum and discuss the issue with other Shopify users. If that is not enough, you can opt for other channels to get in touch with the support team via Live Chat or Phone.
Squarespace looks a bit easier from the start. On the whole, it has a practically similar interface with the dashboard with all editing tools on the left and areas you need to edit on the right.
The key difference is that Squarespace is a 100% WYSIWYG website builder with a fully-integrated drag-and-drop editor. This means that you can easily remove and re-order on-page sections and elements.
On the other hand, some problems might appear when you try to drag-and-drop images. Just hovering the mouse to the interface screen is not enough.
The only way to upload media content is to access the platform’s Style Editor. It provides tools to customize different elements. Users can resize blocks, place them wherever you need as well as choose from ready-to-use page styles and structures.
The editor has pre-built coverage for different page types including Landing Pages, Blogs, Galleries, Event or Index Pages, etc. Simply choose the type you need and add relevant content.
All-in-all, Squarespace is intuitive and easy for everyone as it does not require any coding proficiency. Thus, everyone can use it to set up a quality web store with it.
Squarespace is also a good platform in terms of customer support. It has a ticketing system to resolve issues via email. Tutorial Resources contain multiple materials including video guides, articles and blog posts that can be pretty useful. Additional ways to contact the support team include 24/7 Live Chat.
Shopify vs Squarespace: Design and Flexibility
Shopfify and Squarespace both come with powerful integrated web design functionality. The thing is that the platforms have different implications, which has its impact upon the feature sets they offer.
To define the system which works best for your individual project, it is crucial to figure out what exactly each of them has in stock. A more detailed overview and comparison of both services will help you with that.
Shopify has distinguished itself as an eCommerce-oriented platform with a more extensive set of features in terms of creating an online store. It offers plenty of handy tools not only to manage your sales and products but also to enable a fast payment process, effective marketing strategies, product promotions, and more.
The system makes it easy to add new products, manage item groups etc. Users can benefit from a ready-to-use product catalog module.
All you need is to add product images, description and prices. Moreover, you can create your own product categories. Automated EU VAT calculation will certainly be a huge plus to save time and meet VAT MOSS requirements.
As the eCommerce software, Shopify allows for effective external trading, letting you generate revenues not only through the website. The company introduced its high end POS (Point Of Sale) system for physically located stores.
At the same time, it makes it easy to turn your Facebook page into an online trading platform without actually building a website.
Shopify AR feature lets customers benefit from the realist and real-life product viewing experience. Enabled by the 3D Warehouse application, the AR-based technology delivers a true sense of item’s size, color, quality or other crucial characteristics. Each product is available as the 3D model.
The system also makes use of advanced reporting and analytic tools to let you keep an eye on the most crucial sale parameters, trading statistics and other web store-related factors.
The system defines the most successful traffic and revenue channels. We should also mention promotion and reward features that can increase your customers’ loyalty.
As a solely eCommerce platform, Shopify offers an extensive selection of templates for professional web store creation. You can pick any of them to set up a project to comply with your niche specialization and business requirements.
An important innovation is the opportunity to start selling via social network accounts, namely Twitter. If you have a Twitter account, it is possible to organize the sales process directly on your profile to drive more customers.
Recently, Shopify has presented the Shop Cash rewards feature, which is free for all users. It guarantees a convenient checkout process, making it possible to get financial revenue for the Shop Pay purchases.
The availability of Shop Cash Boots, in its turn, allows creating multiple offers to get new customers, who use the Shop app.
Another system highlight that is worth user attention is the Marketplace Kit. It allows connecting your trading platform (project) to several merchants at a time.
All of them have a vast shopping experience, letting customers trade worldwide. The most well-known brands include Tik Tok, Spotify and Twitter to mention a few.
When it comes to Shopify eCommerce advantages, Linkpop should also be mentioned. This is a powerful eCommerce bio tool that ensures a safe and fast checkout process.
As a result, you have an opportunity to convert potential clients into real customers as well as to manage your projects from your social media bio.
As a powerful eCommerce software, Shopify allows trading with wholesale clients via its built-in B2B platform. This is the place to set your own wholesale prices, introduce discounts, add and customize new themes as well as start selling from a single or a dedicated online store.
Finally, Shopify has made it possible to trade in multiple locations worldwide with maximum efficacy. Apart from multi-language support, the software now allows using Shopify Markets to simplify international selling.
The feature lets you target new geo locations, optimize your brand for worldwide sales, sell products/services in local currencies/languages, collect duties and import taxes at checkout etc.
As seen from above, Shopify definitely excels at eCommerce features yet their quality, versatility and extensive applicability mainly works great for the development of large-scale stores. Regular users may find the system too complicated for everyday use.
Squarespace initially positions itself as a more content-based website builder that works well for starting blogs or portfolio projects, for example. However, it also comes with quite a powerful eCommerce engine that can be used to launch standard small/mid-size online stores.
When it comes to eCommerce project creation, the platform makes it possible to integrate a shopping cart, set up payment, shipping and tax parameters, connect SSL Certificate to your digital store to ensure maximum safety and protection from third-party access. The system uses Stripe to process payments made through MasterCard or Visa.
The eCommerce functionality of the website builder makes it possible to create clickable item images that will transfer users to a product page that may contain videos, prices, photos or any other vital information. The system lets users add up to 100 items.
Squarespace offers some promotional opportunities in the face of promo codes, vouchers, discounts, etc. There is also an opportunity to track your web store statistics by means of Google Analytics integration.
This lets you control your web store performance to make sure it functions well and to be able to modify the required parameters in case of necessity.
Squarespace allows transferring already existing web stores from several popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Etsy or BigCartel, for example. You will be able to import the products available in stock to keep managing them with the platform.
The website builder comes with the built-in CRM system that allows storing user contacts and tracking the status of orders/apps. There is also a special builder to design pop-up windows featuring marketing offers. This helps boost sales volumes.
All in all, the process of launching a Squarespace-powered web store is quite understandable, intuitive and simple for everyone. As opposed to Shopify, no coding, web design skills and eCommerce background are required to do that.
What you need is to follow the steps and recommendations generated by the software. Having created an account, you will be offered to pick a design and to add a new “Store” collection. Then you have to fill out baseline parameters for your project and create a catalog structure with a number of categories/subcategories.
As soon as you are done with the task, you may proceed to filling the catalog with products (either manually or by means of using import tools). Having added shipping options and configured payment methods, you may finally publish a web store to start accepting orders and promoting the project. That’s it. As you see, the entire process is simple and understandable, irrespective of users’ web design proficiency.
Shopify has quite a powerful blogging engine, making blog creation simple, fast and convenient for everyone. This does not require any preliminary web design expertise or coding awareness – the process is intuitive and understandable even for newbies.
By connecting a blog to your digital store, you will be able to stay in touch with your current and potential customers. The feature lets you add and edit blog posts, create lookbooks, integrate media files, connect with social network accounts, categorize posts into niche sections, make use of the Future Publishing option to schedule article publications.
Adjusting SEO parameters is also possible here, which adds to your blog/web store promotion.
Squarespace also has a feature-rich blogging platform available by default. This provides an opportunity to set up a blog and to further manage it as you need.
You can get access to standard blogging features here, such as article publication/scheduling, blog/post URL customization, GEO tag set up, SEO settings adjustment and more.
The website builder also lets you connect Google Analytics to check your blog performance, if required.
An important option is availability of the commenting feature, which allows users to leave their ideas and thoughts under each post to share their expertise or points of view regarding the topic of the article.
By the way, if you already own a blog created with WordPress, Blogger, Posterous or Tumblr or any other blogging platform, you can transfer it to Squarespace when required.
Third-Party Integrations and Special Features
Shopify has its own eCommerce App Store with a range of add-ons and widgets for your future online store. The selection of apps includes solutions for analyzing, reporting, payment processing, loyalty programs, social media marketing, etc.
Apart from this, the software can integrate with a range of third-party services. A good solution for those who crave for extended website functionality thanks to Zoho, Zendesk, QuickBooks or other integration opportunities.
Integration with world-popular marketplaces and trading platforms like Amazon is available here as well. This increases the chances for boosting your web store positions and brand recognition.
To ensure a unique shopping experience, Shopify grants access to a list of advanced applications. Users may try integrating “pre-orders”, “subscriptions” and “try before you buy” apps to provide their potential customers with a freedom of choice.
Additionally, you can unlock exceptional community experiences and exclusive products with NFTs and Tokengated Commerce features. They also allow connecting crypto wallets to a web store, if needed.
Premium plan subscribers now can get quick access to their business data due to the availability of a new ShopifyQL Notebooks feature. It lets you explore the query language introduced specially for eCommerce.
This is a surefire way to write your own data story and develop an exclusive business strategy. The data is available in a single interface, which is quite handy for everyone.
What’s more, the software has recently implemented numerous customer engagement tools. They let you build advanced on-brand campaigns and stay connected with the target audience. These include marketing automations, 24/7 chat, Shopify inbox, Shopify Email Customization tools, customer segmentation option and more.
Squarespace functionality can be expanded by means of adding pre-designed APIs and integrations. They are available in a separate catalog that can be found in the general website settings section.
The catalog includes multiple extensions belonging to the following categories: tools to work with a product catalog, financial tools, marketing and sales extensions as well as fulfillment and shipping tools. Keep in mind that many apps require extra subscriptions, which will eventually affect the final cost of your project.
The website builder also offers useful eCommerce extensions for eating out venues (cafes and restaurants), opportunity to integrate contact forms and social media buttons along with Google Maps.
By the way, you do not have to install analytic tools to track the website stats. Squarespace comes with an in-built Metrics App. Another option is to integrate Google Analytics.
Some of the system highlights include the Acuity Scheduling Platform, which works great for effective business management, and the Unfold App – a free storytelling tool, which lets you publish appealing posts in social networks.
Squarespace Logo Maker and Video Studio App are worth separate attention. The Logo Maker tool is a superb solution for users, who haven’t managed to create their own project logo to make them stand out from the crowd. The tool grants access to multiple elements and special features to let you pick the preferred design, color scheme, style and other features that perfectly match your brand.
To enhance the eCommerce website performance, installing a Video Studio App will be a perfect solution. This is where you can set up and share all kinds of business videos to tell your company story, grow the customer base, generate more sales etc.
If required, you can track your online store data using the innovative Squarespace app, which lets you track project statistics and get connected with customers even on the go.
Design Set Up and Customization
Shopify lets you build professionally looking web shops using its free and paid templates (see real Shopify examples). The selection of free themes is pretty limited. On the other hand, they still look rather pleasant and user-friendly.
The collection includes about 18 free templates that might not look enough for demanding users. This is where CSS/HTML access may come in handy whenever you need to implement a unique website style. However, only technicians will handle the editing process.
As for paid templates, the selection includes a bit more than 70 themes that look very professional and trendy. They are divided into categories to meet different types of stores regarding their sizes.
By the way, all premium themes are mobile-friendly. The only problem is that you will have to add about $140-$180 to your budget, which might be a fortune for a single template.
The good news is that Shopify lets you switch the templates on any stage of the web development process without losing previously-submitted content.
Newbies will certainly appreciate this feature as they can make mistakes on the initial stages of the template section process.
Squarespace templates look gorgeous. They are professionally designed (see examples). The collection of themes consists of 150 samples although most of them mainly refer to content-based sites such as portfolios and blogs.
eCommerce themes, however, are available here as well. The system offers CSS and HTML editing opportunities through its Developer Platform. However, it is available only with the Premium Plan.
The system’s check out page editor might work well whenever you need to take customers to another template or product page. Cover Page Builder will also come in handy to create catchy landing pages with stunning images and other types of content.
Users can choose from dozens of ready-to-use cover page layouts available for customization. A high end Style Editor contributes to the development of unique and personalized website design, providing the opportunity to modify web page backgrounds, fonts, styles, elements, color palettes and other elements with regard to your project needs and personal objectives.
Shopify vs Squarespace: General Pricing
Shopify offers a free 14-day trial and four premium subscriptions depending on your future digital store size. You can choose the most suitable variant depending on your project specialization, size, complexity, functionality and other parameters. Have a look at Shopify plans now:
- Starter ($5/mo) – a suitable plan for users, who want to start selling via social networks or messaging apps. It offers a Linkpop tool, order management, built-in analytics, Shopify checkout feature, customer support etc.;
- Basic ($29/mo) – a nice choice for a simple web store, which includes website and blog integration, unlimited products, 24/7 support, basic reports, POS, 2 staff accounts, free SSL Certificate connection, up to 4 inventory locations and 77% shipping discount etc.;
- Shopify ($79/mo) – a worthy solution for a growing web-based business. The subscription offers 5 staff accounts, up to 5 inventory locations, gift cards, up to 88% shipping discount, a professional reporting option etc.;
- Advanced ($299/mo) – the plan grants access to a set of professional digital business tools, such as third-party calculated shipping rates, 15 staff accounts, up to 8 inventory locations, a report builder, real-time carrier shipping and other features.
Additionally, the platform has an advanced Shopify Plus subscription. It offers enterprise-grade eCommerce solutions for large-scale businesses. The cost of the plan is discussed individually and starts at $2000/mo.
Squarespace also has a free trial that lasts for 14 days and four premium packages for users looking for advanced options/tools. Upon the end of the trial version, you will be able to pick one of the paid subscriptions. These include:
- Personal ($14/mo billed annually) – 2 contributors, unlimited bandwidth and storage, SSL Security, integrated website metrics, 24/7 customer support, 30 minutes of video storage, free custom domain, website metrics, SEO features etc.;
- Basic Commerce ($27/mo billed annually) – customer accounts, 0% transaction fees, domain checkout feature, domain checkout feature, powerful eCommerce analytics, Instagram synchronization etc.;
- Advanced Commerce ($49/mo billed annually) – APIs for order and inventory, gift cards, abandoned shopping cart recovery, advanced shipping and discounts, gift cards, limited availability labels etc.
If you have an intention to start a web store with Squarespace, it makes sense to upgrade either to Basic Commerce or Advanced Commerce plans. They provide more features a web store should possess to gain user attention.
Shopify vs Squarespace: Which One Is the Best for SEO?
Shopify excels at SEO functionality, which makes web stores the system powers well-optimized for the search engines. There is an opportunity to independently set up parameters for effective SEO optimization.
These include meta tags (titles, descriptions, keywords), Alt tags for images etc. The software automatically generates your web store sitemap right after you set it up.
You can also integrate analytics/stats tracking tools to control your project performance.
Squarespace has a separate section, where you can fill out the boxes that are a must for quality website optimization. These include baseline meta tags (titles, descriptions, keywords).
The system is SEO-friendly and, thus, it lets you hide a website from indexing by the search engines until it is completely ready for publication. This is a notable factor that affects your project positions in the search engine results.
Key Differences Between Shopify and Squarespace
|Ease of Use:||Shopify is a powerful eCommerce software, which is rightfully recognized as the best system in its niche. It has an intuitive dashboard and integrated drag-and-drop editor, which helps reach quality results with minimum time/effort investment.||Squarespace is a popular DIY drag-and-drop website builder. It allows starting different types of web projects, including online stores. The system does not require coding skills, which matters a lot for newbies.|
|Functionality:||Niche specialization of the system mainly goes down to online store development/promotion. The platform delivers access to numerous eCommerce-specific features and tools. They are used for effective product and web store management, sales/projects/clients tracking and worthy design customization.||The system has a simple WYSIWYG editor, integrated blogging and eCommerce engines, useful social integrations, Logo Maker and other tools, which may contribute to your web store promotion. When running a project, you can use Google Maps embedding feature, Unfold App, stats tracking tools, Acuity Scheduling Platform and other powerful features.|
|Design:||The template collection of the system is not quite extensive yet all the themes have a professional look. You can choose from 18 free templates and around 70 paid themes, all of which are responsive and fully-customizable.||Squarespace offers an impressive collection of free, customizable, responsive and industry-specific templates. You can access powerful design customization tools, Logo Maker, Image and Style Editors and other elements that let you design truly unique and personalized websites.|
|eCommerce:||Shopify is a powerful and globally-known eCommerce software. It abounds in niche-specific features and tools that help run all kinds of digital stores, including large hypermarkets.||Squarespace comes with an integrated eCommerce platform. It lets you build and customize small/mid-size online stores to offer services/products for sale.|
|Blogging:||The service has a worthy blogging platform. It allows connecting and managing a feature-rich blog to enhance user engagement rate and to make clients aware of industry news and updates.||The website builder lets you connect a blog to your website and manage it, using the integrated functionality of the system. You can adjust special blog settings here, enable commenting feature, schedule upcoming publications etc.|
|Small Business:||Shopify is a nice option for small business website development granted that these projects are created with eCommerce focus in mind.||Squarespace is a nice solution for small business website start up. It lets you integrate numerous business widgets and media files, while its advanced Acuity Scheduling Platform along with useful stats tracking tools contribute to quality result.|
|Pricing:||The software offers a 14-day free trial and 4 premium plans to choose from. Their cost starts at $5/mo.||The website builder has a free 14-day trial and 4 paid subscriptions. Their cost starts at $14/mo.|
|SEO:||Shopify is a SEO-friendly platform. It allows for effective web store optimization by means of filling out special parameters and using analytic/statistics tracking tools.||Squarespace is good at SEO. Along with the opportunity to fill out baseline SEO settings for effective website promotion, it also lets you hide your website (or its pages) from indexing by the search engines.|
|Customer Support:||Shopify Help Center, eCommerce University, Informative Forum||24/7 Live Chat, Email Support, FAQ section, Ticketing System, Community Forum|
Comparison Conclusion: Which One Is Better?
When it comes to eCommerce website development, you need to be 100% sure you get all necessary tools to handle the store management process. At the same time, you need the software that will comply with your web design skills and expertise rate.
Shopify and Squarespace both unveil the opportunity of web store creation yet they still differ in their implication, complexity, budget and target audience.
Shopify is a specialized eCommerce software that comes with plenty of integration opportunities, its own app store, free and paid templates, great customization capabilities, blogging platform etc. It delivers a comprehensive editor, great promotion and marketing tools to grow business in addition to analytics and reporting functionality.
Squarespace is the all-in-one website builder, which comes with a powerful built-in eCommerce platform. It cannot boast advanced and versatile web store management settings yet the available options and tools are more than enough to set up small-to-medium online shops. And, what’s important, they work well for first-timers.
To sum it up, Squarespace is the platform that will suit everyone. It ensures an easy start with minimum financial investment. The system does not require any programming knowledge, offering an intuitive editor and easy customizability. You won’t encounter any complex settings here – everything is simple and understandable for everyone.